Review: The Desolation of Smaug

I finally saw the second installment of The Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug. And while I mostly enjoyed my viewing experience, I have been uncertain as to how to review this film because of two really big bones I have to pick at this movie. So finally I’ve decided to just go ahead and rant…

Rant #1: The Barrel Escape Scene

hobbit-barrelescapeThis is literally the worst scene I have seen in a movie in I don’t know how long, and I don’t mean the content of it, I mean the production of it. First off, there was some pretty lousy CGI in the movie (alongside some pretty decent CGI, like Smaug, for instance, looked good), and the crappiest of it was in this scene. Whether it was the orcs or the way the dwarves were flying down the river in the barrels, it was painfully obvious at times that these things were computer generated. And considering that I have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the first Hobbit movie without ever feeling this way, I was stunned by this.

Secondly, apparently they decided to incorporate what were probably GoPro cameras on the actors or barrels or stunt doubles or fill-in props or whatever, to get these water shots that were designed to make you feel as if you were in the water. But these weren’t the high-quality shots you see in the rest of the movie; they looked more like a home movie or a documentary. That’s fine for certain movies, but for for this movie, that particular style was so inconsistent with what is in the rest of the movie it completely took me out of it. Pick  a style and stick with it, Peter Jackson.

Rant #2: There is no Act 3

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the three act structure, but in case you aren’t, here’s a reference:

ThreeActStructureFlat

The Desolation of Smaug ends at the crisis point, right before the climax. THERE IS NO CLIMAX IN THIS 2 HOUR AND 41 MINUTE MOVIE. That’s a serious problem. It’s also called the DESOLATION of Smaug. Desolation means “complete destruction.” At the end of the movie Smuag is FLYING AWAY. HE IS NOT DESOLATED IN THE SLIGHTEST. At the end of the movie I felt completely duped. What was the point of everything I just saw? To wait another 11 months for the third movie for Smaug to actually be desolated before they start the next part of the story (because there’s more to be told after Smaug, so it’s not like that had to be dragged out)? Seriously?!

Now that I’ve ranted, what did I like about the movie? It took itself more seriously than the first one I thought, my two rants aside. I appreciated that, and I think it will hold my attention better for a second viewing than the first Hobbit movie did when I watched it a second time. I liked the addition of Tauriel, though her main purpose seemed to be to insert estrogen in the movie and create an unnecessary love triangle (between a dwarf and Legolas, the latter who was a bit shoehorned into the story). She’s like an elf version of Katniss.

Hobbit-TaurielI continued to like Kili, though again, there was some added story line there for drama, and I liked Bard quite a bit. I’ll be interested in seeing what he does in the third movie (since I’ve forgotten from the book, not that following the book is exactly Peter Jackson’s forte). And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch as a sinister dragon was great. Overall, the movie was entertaining but my two rants really drag the overall score of the movie down for me. I give it 3.5 stars, though I feel like I’m being a little nice to be giving it that.

3.5starsWhat are your thoughts on The Desolation of Smaug? Did you feel duped too?